2018 Halliday Winemaker of the Year

“The Ultimate Viniculturist” – James Halliday

Senior Winemaker, Paul Hotker

Winemaker of the Year

Paul Hotker, senior winemaker at Langhorne Creek’s Bleasdale Vineyards has been awarded the 2018 Wine Companion Winemaker of the year by James Halliday.

Paul’s Story

Halliday has bestowed one his highest accolades on Langhorne Creek, naming Paul Hotker of Bleasdale Vineyards, Winemaker of the Year for 2018.

Senior Winemaker Paul has been storming the wine show circuit over recent years. Halliday, who famously named Langhorne Creek the “most underrated region in Australia”, has been a strong supporter of Paul’s winemaking talents for several years, recognising his “extraordinary skill” in nurturing high quality fruit into outstanding wines. The 2018 edition of the Halliday Wine Companion sees a number of Bleasdale wines rated 95 or above, and not surprisingly, Bleasdale has retained its Halliday red five-star status for the fifth year in a row.

Paul has had a career with as many changes and challenges as that of Frank Potts, starting as a jackeroo in Western Pilbara in 1990. He moved back to civilisation the following year, and was a vineyard / vine nursery hand at Olive Farm and Vinitech Nurseries around the Swan Valley and Margaret River regions while undertaking extension horticulture studies at Perth TAFE.

A thumb injury meant he could no longer prune vines, and between 1993 and 1994 was a bicycle courier / messenger in Perth and Sydney. This gave rise to the idea of a cycle tour around Europe, and stumbling into a job in The Netherlands, because the landscape was flat and everyone rode bicycles. He graduated to the rarefied heights of bicycle mechanic and assistant manager for a major bicycle company in Amsterdam, returning to Sydney in 1997, again repairing bicycles, before returning to casual work in Perth.

Things became more serious in 1998, when he became a casual vineyard hand at Voyager Estate and continued his viticulture studies at Margaret River TAFE. In 1999, he enrolled in the University of Adelaide Waite Campus, initially studying viticulture, but then changing step onto oenology. During this three years he worked at Voyager Estate, Kangaroo Creek in the Adelaide Hills, Kangarilla Road in McLaren Vale, and other vineyards for weeks here and there.

On graduation, he was appointed viticulturist and assistant winemaker at Nautilus Estate in Marlborough New Zealand, a specialist pinot noir winery. He remained at Nautilus for four years, returning to Australia at the end of 2006, to be appointed Vintage Winemaker at Richmond Grove. In 2007, he was appointed senior winemaker at Bleasdale Vineyards.

“Bleasdale has more than 165 years of history behind it. In another 165 years, I don’t want people to talk about the wines that Hotker made; I want them to recognise these wines are good because they are made from superb quality grapes from Langhorne Creek and the Adelaide Hills that were treated with care and respect.”

Paul’s Recommendations